Parents With Buggies Must Give Up Bus Spots To Wheelchair Users

Bus drivers must do more to pressure people with buggies to make room for wheelchairs on the bus, judges have ruled.

Disability campaigner Doug Paulley brought a case all the way to the Supreme Court after a woman refused to make way for his wheelchair on a bus from Wetherby to Leeds in 2012.

Supreme Court judges today said bus drivers will have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users, reported the BBC.

The judges said it was not enough for a driver to simply ask people to leave the wheelchair spot. Instead, "unreasonable" passengers who refuse to move must be pressured to give it up. They also said Parliament should revisit equality laws bearing their ruling in mind.

Paulley was left at a bus stop after a woman with a sleeping baby refused to move her buggy, saying it would not fold. He was forced to wait for the next bus and missed a connecting train and lunch with his parents.

Paulley sued bus operator FirstGroup for not making “reasonable adjustments” for wheelchair users and breaching the Equality Act 2010. The bus has a sign saying: "Please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user."

Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, said bus drivers should consider taking further action against "unreasonable" non-wheelchair passengers who ignored a request to move – rather than a simple request – depending on the circumstances.

However, the judgement did not make it a legal requirement for bus companies to force non-wheelchair users to vacate the space.

After the judgement, Paulley said he had not expected to still be "discussing the day I had that problem going across to see my parents for lunch", five years on.

He told the BBC: "It's been amazing the amount of support I've had – disabled people, organisations, lawyers, family, allies. This is hopefully going to make a major difference to disabled people's travel."

He did not say whether or not he thought the verdict had fallen short, but added that the issue would always involve drivers exercising their own judgement, as "there will always be some exceptional circumstances where somebody can't be expected to move out of the space.

"But what this judgement means is the driver has to make their own decision as to whether the person is being unreasonable in refusing to move, and if they are, he or she has to tell them that they are required to move, and if necessary refuse to move the bus until they shift."

However, Paulley's solicitor, Chris Fry, said the ruling did not go far enough. He said: "The judgement should have gone further – there's no right as things currently stand to force someone off a bus. So it goes as far as that, but not that far yet," reported the BBC.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which supported Paulley at the Court of Appeal in 2014 and the Supreme Court, called the verdict "a victory for disabled people's rights".
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